Travel Planning: Fall in Asia
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Review: Singapore Airlines Suites Class LAX - NRT
Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Recap: Time in Tokyo
Review: HND JAL First Class Lounge
Review: JAL Business Class HND - GMP
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Recap: Time in Seoul
Review: ICN Cathay Pacific Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class ICN - HKG
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Recap: Time in Hong Kong
Review: HKG Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class HKG - SFO
We spent two and a half days in Tokyo and while we didn't hit some of the biggest tourist attractions of the city, we were content to walk around the neighborhoods and just become absorbed. Tokyo is incredibly bustling and can be overwhelming at times, but it's also an incredibly clean and beautiful city full of very polite and helpful Japanese.
Our first day in Tokyo, we spent the day visiting different neighborhoods and a few tourist attractions in the city. We started off our morning at around 10 AM and headed for the Tokyo Metro. Big. Mistake. Even though it was later in the morning, the train was still packed full of morning commuters. We were literally stuffed into the train and I have never been closer to a total stranger in my life. Despite my discomfort, I had to note that regardless of my location directly in front of a man's armpit, there was no smell in the train car. I really appreciated the Japanese's sense of hygiene at that moment.
For our first stop, we figured we should check out Shibuya Crossing, which is famous for being one of the biggest crossings in the world. Traffic stops in all directions to allow people to cross and it's usually packed full of people. Unfortunately, when we visited, for some reason there really weren't that many people in the area so it wasn't as impressive as we expected.
From the crossing, we headed to Meiji Shrine, which is a large Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Surrounding the shrine is a quite large evergreen forest, which is beautiful to walk through on your way in. It's really quite nice to disappear into a wooded area right in the middle of a huge city full of concrete and we took our time wandering around.
After the shrine, it was time for lunch, so we popped in to a favorite restaurant that Chris had discovered on his last trip to Tokyo. It was dirt cheap and incredibly simple - a bowl of rice with thinly sliced beef and onions on top. Put that with a beer and it was a well-rounded and simple lunch that I actually enjoyed.
After lunch, we walked around a few more neighborhoods, including Harajuku and Shinjuku and then did a bit of shopping - I figured I should get a really good Japanese knife for all of the cooking I don't do, but maybe now I can?
That evening, we had a reservation at the Robot "Restaurant". I put restaurant in quotations because I really wouldn't call it a restaurant - the restaurant consists of a cabaret-style show with tons of robots and performers who sing and dance but if you go for the food option, all you get is a weird bento box. At 6,000 JPY per person, it's a bit steep, but the show was definitely unique.
We also walked through Kabukichō on our way to and from the restaurant, which is a red light district in Tokyo completely full of neon and hundreds of signs everywhere - yet another unique experience in itself.
The next day, we wanted to do something to get outside of Tokyo and were between a day trip to Kyoto or a day trip to Mt. Fuji. Chris had already been to Kyoto and wasn't very excited about the prospect of going back, so we decided on a day long tour package from Viator to Mt. Fuij, Lake Ashi, and Mt. Komagatake, which ended with a bullet train ride back to Tokyo.
The tour was nice because the guide spoke English and we really didn't have to plan anything. We were picked up from our hotel in the morning and then transferred to our tour bus at a Tokyo bus station. We then drove outside of Tokyo and headed up Mt. Fuji. We made it up to the 5th Station where it was much colder, but had beautiful views, including some wonderful fall foliage.
From Mt. Fuji, we headed to Lake Ashi in the Kanagawa prefecture, which is a crater lake with views on clear days of Mt. Fuji. Once at the lake, we were able to take a nice 15 minute boat ride across to the Mt Komagatake Ropeway, which brought us to the top of Mt. Komagatake. Once at the top of Mt. Komagatake, there was a path that led around the mountaintop and in true Japanese fashion, we found yet another Shinto shrine. Once we made it back down the mountain, we jumped on the tour bus, which took us to the nearest bullet train station to head back to Tokyo. The bullet train, although traveling about 200 miles per hour, was a very nice and relaxing ride and before we knew it, we were back in the city.
The areas we saw were beautiful and we enjoyed getting out of the city, so we were happy to have taken the tour. Next time I'm back in Tokyo though, I'm definitely going to get to Kyoto. I hear such great things about Kyoto from pretty much everyone and it looks really beautiful - definitely a great day trip option as well!
When we got back to Tokyo, we headed up to the New York Bar, which is a well-known landmark in the city and was featured in the movie Lost in Translation. Since we were guests at the hotel, we didn't have to pay the cover charge of 2,200 JPY. The bar has an amazing view of the city from 52 floors up and features live music and a very pricey drink menu. It was a fun way to end our last full day in Japan.
Tokyo was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed being in Japan. Obviously, we were only there for a short time, but I look forward to going back. The scale of the city is absolutely massive and it's incredible to see so many people all in one place. To end the post, I'll leave you with something quite iconic in Japan - the vending machine! We saw them everywhere and they sell all kinds of things. I was on the lookout for unique items, but unfortunately really only saw beverage and soup vending machines. Thanks for all the fun, Japan!
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.